What Attracts Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are one of the most awful insect-type pests that most people encounter. However, many people haven’t the foggiest clue where they’ve contracted the bed bugs that are now attacking their homes, vehicles, and/or bodies.

The truth is, bed bugs are attracted to several things that you should be aware of. 

Many of these attractants are natural, and can not be reversed or prevented, though they can be used to help you lure bed bugs from their hiding places and to their demise. 

In this article, we will educate you on what attracts bed bugs in the first place, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.

8 Things Bed Bugs Are Attracted To

Despite popular belief, due to their name, bed bugs far from only live and hide in beds. Rather, they get their name from sucking the blood of their victims which are normally humans sound asleep in their beds. And, you won’t believe some of the simple and organic things that attract them.

Regardless of your intentions for learning how to attract bed bugs, here are the most significant bed bug attractants that you should know about moving forward:

1. Breathing (Carbon Dioxide)

Yep. You read it correctly. Breathing (and the constant release of carbon dioxide) is perhaps the number one bed bug attractant outside of body heat. 

While you are laying in bed sleeping, your body continues to breathe, inhaling fresh oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide and water vapor. And, due to the fact that most people don’t move all that much while sleeping, a small cloud of carbon dioxide basically ends up hovering over your bed and body.

The carbon dioxide lingering in the air just above your sleeping body is a direct indicator to bed bugs that a possible meal is nearby. And, once they make it a bit closer to you and your bed, several other attractants (which are up next on the list) hit them and reinforce their idea of feasting on your blood.

Now, technically speaking you could place a fan nearby to help break up and blow away the carbon dioxide cloud before it tips off the bed bugs. However, it wouldn’t do you much good as the other attractants we are about to talk about would clue them in on your location anyhow.

2. Body Heat (And Other Temperatures)

The body heat of sleeping humans (and animals) is probably the most basic things that attracts bed bugs. And with the temperature of the average human’s skin being around 91 degrees, it is a temperature that is more than warm enough to attract bed bugs. 

Fortunately, man created a nifty little invention called central heating and cooling units.

The temperature of your home is also a factor to take into consideration when it comes to things that attract bed bugs. This not only includes room temperatures, which are commonly around 70 degrees, give or take 5 or 10 degrees depending on personal preferences, but also the temperatures of things like pipes, floors, and appliances. 

3. Bedding

The bedding that you sleep can attract bed bugs. Believe it or not, sheets especially, which makes their name even more suitable to be perfectly honest.

At any rate, as depressing as it is that bed bugs could possibly be attracted to your blankets, pillows, and sheets, all is not lost. There is a little secret to making your bedding less attractive to these pests; colors.

According to researchers, bed bugs tend to prefer darker colored linens. This is believed to be due to their most basic and natural habits being steeped in darkness. 

Likewise, the brighter colors such as white, yellow, and green are believed to dissuade bed bugs by making them feel as if they are too far away from the darkness.

4. Clothing (Especially Dirty Laundry)

Depending on your temperature, unique odor, and other factors, clothes can become quite a potent attractant to bed bugs. Pajamas, socks, and underwear probably being the most attractive of all. 

That said, there really isn’t much to do about it other than keeping your dirty clothes in a hamper with a lid and washing them regularly.

5. Skin

Recently worn clothing is attractive to bed bugs alright, but not nearly as much as bare skin. The aroma of your clothing, your body temperature, and the carbon dioxide cloud all beckon bed bugs in for a meal while you lie sleeping in your bed. 

Again, there isn’t much to do about this, it is just the nature of the beast. Such as mosquitoes are attracted to body heat, scent, and skin, bed bugs are too. However, a few drops of essential oil have been known to dissuade bed bugs for some time (after a while they get over the smell and go in for the blood meal regardless). 

6. Blood (No Kidding, Right!?)

Different blood types give off different scents, so, bed bugs will be attracted to some more than others. The same can be said for other blood-sucking critters like mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. If you happen to attract more bugs than others, it may well be due to your blood type. And, there is nothing you can really do about it. According to studies, O blood type are the most preferred by these types of bugs.

7. The Environment Of Your Home

Your home is just as much of an attractant for bed bugs as you are, if you are not careful. Depending on the climate of the interior of your home, bed bugs may feel more or less welcomed to stay forever. If it is too cold, they might not be so keen on sticking around. 

In addition, if you happen to have a lot of shag carpet and fluffy throw blankets in the house, you may be inadvertently aiding and abetting the very pests you are trying to evict. 

Likewise, if you purchase used furniture (especially mattresses and chairs and such) make sure to double and triple check them for signs of bed bugs before taking them into your home.

All things considered, the environment of your home is going to be what it is. Rearranging or bringing in brand new furniture, mattresses, and carpets will only go so far (which is not that far at all really). In the end, just a small handful of surviving bed bugs can and will set up another infestation.

8. Other Bed Bug Natural Attractants

In addition to the above-mentioned attractants, there are obviously numerous other attractants that draw in bed bugs. Most of these natural attractants such as octanol, kairomones, and lactic acid in pregnant women and nursing mothers are naturally occurring chemicals found in humans. 

Keep in mind that while these natural bed bug attractants may be weaker than others on our list, they still enable the pests to hunt you down and suck your blood while you sleep.

Understanding Their Movements

Bed bugs are notorious for hiding out in dark and comfy places such as carpets, pillow cases, and mattress creases. That said, once they get a whiff, or sense, of something they are attracted to, they won’t hesitate to come out of hiding and grab a drink (from you).

That said, attracting bed bugs doesn’t just mean picking them up and giving them a ride home. It also means that you can trick them into leaving their hiding places (breeding grounds and nests) in order for you to get rid of them.

And, knowing what attracts bed bugs allows you to monitor them as well. And, by keeping an eye on their levels, you will be able to react in enough time to prevent any additional significant bed bug infestation from happening.

So, in reality, there are numerous reasons why someone might be interested in learning what attract bed bugs.

Attracting Bed Bugs As A Form Of Pest Control

Once you have a grasp of all the things that attract bed bugs, you’ll also understand how powerful bed bug attractants can be when used hand-in-hand with pest control. 

What exactly does that mean, you might ask?

It means that thanks to the knowledge of what exactly it is that lures bed bugs to humans, we can now set up traps for bed bugs by using these very attractants in unison with pest control tools and products. 

For example, an innovative pest control tool known as active monitors work by using active attractants to lure the pests to a trap. Electronically created heat, chemical-based lures, and even slow-release carbon dioxide are among the most effective attractants relied on for active monitors to work on bed bugs.

In addition, human beings themselves can put themselves in the position of a lure. This can be done by treating the bed and bedding prior to sleep as well as setting up several additional traps or applying powders or sprays (as you see fit depending on the severity of your situation).

Final Thoughts

Understanding what attracts bed bugs will not only help you stay aware of the possibility of inadvertently attracting pests but also presents a unique opportunity to reverse these attractants into lure-type traps. 

That said, purposely attracting bed bugs for any other reason than to kill them, or monitor their levels, is not suggested (and will more than likely not end up well for the experimenter!)

Jordan Quinn Farkas
Jordan Quinn Farkas
Jordan is a full-time writer from his home in Southeast Europe. An avid outdoors-man and backpacker, he has gathered a plethora of tips and tricks for dealing with all sorts of pests.

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